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Checks, Tartans and Gingham – will they ever look good?

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While trying to help a client of mine the other day, it became apparent to me that my concept of checks, tartan and gingham was very different to hers. I think there is a common association of tartan adorning a Scottish man cave, or a heavy gingham throughout a farmhouse style cottage. It also occurred to me that when you picture these classic fabrics in these spaces, you are limiting your choices and closing off your options without giving fabrics like these a chance.


So I have given myself a challenge: Find spaces that use these fabrics tastefully…


I think for the most part, the way to use these fabrics successfully is in moderation – they have the potential to be overdone, so in using them wisely and picking the colours carefully, can help in resolving a successful scheme.

Contrast patterns and colours – this is super important as a feminine type pattern combined with the masculinity of these checks and plaids allows them to complement each other perfectly.

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Keep your spaces light and airy – this removes the possibility of your space turning into a dark and overcrowded living room from a 1990s magazine cover. Keep your cushions sparse and again, use the plaid selectively.

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Carefully consider the colours of these patterns - primary reds and blues sing ‘traditional farmhouse!’ or ‘Swanndri!’ and your forest green and reds sing ‘I am a kilt!’ or ‘cabin in the woods!’. Therefore selecting your colour and the dominance of it will determine how classic the overall look is. Neutral is always good to begin with.

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Accessorise - if worst comes to worst and you are struggling to even slightly consider how to bring any of these types of fabrics into your interior, don’t forget CUSHIONS. They are transformative and can make you look like you are a veteran interior designer by simply placing a well-chosen cushion next to some complementary ones. Ta – dah!

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Cover image can be found here